Matsusaka's "Segyo" Hospitality
Offering Support to Travelers
Segyo is the practice of providing support and hospitality to pilgrims on their way to the Ise Grand Shrine. This included offering a variety of things, such as rice porridge, rice balls, money, straw sandals, conical hats, basket palanquins, and horses for free. During the busiest times of mass pilgrimage, the merchant families, monks, and townspeople, as well as nearby villagers, would come to Matsusaka to practice segyo.
Places Providing Segyo
Many of the towns along the road to the Ise Grand Shrine had places offering segyo to pilgrims in the form of things like rice balls and money. These places were marked with signs saying "Hospitality for Pilgrims," and were managed by townspeople.
The Nationwide Network:
Exchanging Information via Pilgrims
Sangu kobin refers to the practice of entrusting letters to pilgrims heading to the Ise Grand Shrine. While the people of Matsusaka used couriers to deliver letters to their shops in Edo and Kyoto, they also used sangu kobin when corresponding with other regions. Motoori Norinaga, who had disciples across Japan, frequently used this method. While the pilgrims were visiting the Ise Grand Shrine, he would read the letters, write his reply, and entrust the pilgrims with his response as they returned.
Matsusaka and the World
The Globally-Minded People
Since the Edo period, there have been individuals in Matsusaka who have turned their attention to the outside world. Three of the best known are Kadoya Shichirobe, who traded with Vietnam, Takegawa Chikusai, who grasped world trends when Japan's borders were closed during the Sakoku period (1639-1854), and famed tea exporter Otani Kahe.